So after too long living in unforgiving humidity, I have forgotten how beautiful dry, hot summers are… it’s like being back in Cape Town… these crystal clear blazingly hot days followed by the relief of a night cooling… and here is what I have managed to do… have my hair blow-waved straight and without the havoc of high humidity I remained Morticia-like until I washed my hair… I am also not sweating like a man… and rather feel quite feminine sipping my iced coffee… About to experience the forbidding heat of the East Coast so suspect that masculine sweating gene might kick in…
I spent the weekend in Petaluma with friends… a beautiful historical town just north of San Francisco… Perfectly tended houses, groovy little coffee spaces, a farmers market, an enormous refurbished old bank that is now a GMO-free seed bank… a relaxed little estuary that we had dinner beside… All was well and safe in this land of the free and the brave… on waking the horror of what happened in Orlando breaks brutally into this idyll … here are the words of American poet, Brian Bilston’s entitled America is a Gun.
England is a cup of tea.
France, a wheel of ripened brie.
Greece, a short, squat olive tree.
America is a gun.
Brazil is a football on the sand.
Argentina, Maradona’s hand.
Germany, an oompah band.
America is a gun.
Holland is a wooden shoe.
Hungary, a goulash stew.
Australia, a kangaroo.
America is a gun.
Japan is a thermal spring.
Scotland is a highland fling.
Oh, better to be anything
than America as a gun.
So I spent a fabulous Memorial Day long weekend with my sister and family in beautiful, hip, extraordinarily quiet Portland… actually sometimes I think I may be the noisiest person in too-cool-for-school-you-can-never-have-enough-tats-nor-shades-of-blue-in-your-hair city of Roses (and “feel the Bern”)… It’s a fabulously, infinitely liveable place.. of course my fam is there so I am biased … but it’s beautiful and easy to get around, yummy food (and delicious boutique beer), cute little neighbourhoods, best coffee in the US, and more hipsters per square beard… I even snuck into have my hair coloured by a 50s motorbike-enthusiast with skulls peppered up his neck (just a smidge different to my perfectly coiffed hairdresser at home, just a smidge)…
Don’t really know where to start… firstly cannot quite believe it’s already one month and it’s gone in a blink of an eye and also feels strangely like I have been here for ages… so what’s fab and what’s not… the terror of the commute – wrong side of the road, driving a tiny Fiat 500, Teslas roaring up behind and almost on top of me.. thankfully now in a compact SUV (yes I am in a 4-wheel drive) taking on those bloody Teslas…; I have managed to get lost a lot (yes I do have a GPS) and have also remarkably traversed the I101 – a parking lot of a freeway … north, south and north again in under 5 minutes… but mostly it has been fab… delicious weather – hot and dry and then a magical coolness in the evenings… the joy of my quiet retreat far away from the valley (or the pit as it is known) in the forest (a little like Deliverance) and going to sleep with the sound of a stream just outside my window… the huge fat cat that I am looking after, Cleo, that lies on the ground and spoons the food into her mouth and needs three little wooden steps to walk up to the sofa (and also managed to attack me in week one and dug a fang into my palm)…hanging out with my beautiful, generous friend and her family in the mountains…strawberries that are the yummiest things I have ever eaten… whole foods (more like whole pay check)… trader joe… the best barre class in town…getting to see the “woman card” Hillary Clinton in downtown San Jose and being interviewed for community radio… and of course being close to my sis and her fam and chattering every day on my way home…oh and work… what a shock to the system – a 5-day week… but also interesting and provoking and living the ambiguous dream…
For all the wonderful women out there… our retreat is on… a weekend of yoga, archetype discovery, women’s business, delicious nourishing food, friendship and laughter… in the words of Deepak Chopra… “Peace, harmony, laughter and love”…
Welcome to a tale of woe…many of you will have experienced a similar story. Imagine a very excited me arriving at the airport to a surly airline representative telling me my Air New Zealand flight to the US was cancelled and “no” she had no idea why… I would have to overnight in Auckland and “no” she had no idea as to when I would be on a flight to San Fran… I watched my luggage sail off to luggage hell and made my sad way to the airline’s club… a lovely young woman took me under her wing, got me on Qantas flight via LAX (hideous I know but at least I would arrive in Portland the same day)… and promised she was on the phone to ensure my luggage was put on the new flight… some fabulous work by my travel agent re-routed my flight to Portland… so finally I arrived in hellish LAX and of course my luggage was in its own purgatory … just not in LA… yes lost it was. An unhelpful client service rep told me to deal with United Airlines when I arrived at my destination and it was not her problem…. So teary-eyed wandered off to wait for 6 hours to catch another flight to Portland… By now I hadn’t slept for what felt like an eternity but I figured this happens and my luggage will be delivered… I filled in the mandatory missing luggage form on arrival at Portland and went to meet my sister and family and felt relieved that all was now “in the system” and my bags would wing their merry way to me the next day… YEH RIGHT. Since then the debacle has continued unabated… today 5 days after I left Sydney, upwards of 5 hours waiting on hold listening to “fly the friendly skies”, my small backpack arrived… and my case is now closed… one slight problem is I had two pieces of luggage… my itsy bitsy backpack with not much in it and my main large piece of luggage with all my favourite stuff and of course Christmas gifts … which is now LOST and no one has a clue what happened to it and my case is closed and I no longer have missing luggage according to the airline… Thank you to Air NZ for starting the debacle and then taking no responsibility. Thank you to Qantas for making me feel it was my fault using Air NZ in the first place and what did I expect with Air NZ luggage tags. Thank you to United for being as awful as everyone says you are.
This much I know to be true… my blogging DNA is failing dismally… However I felt compelled to write today. I went to Documentary Australia Foundation’s launch of a new film, “The Surgery Ship” last night… Every moment of middle class woe, every bourgeois sentiment, every self indulgent thought flew out the window for little while last night. It is a must see. The story is of a medical ship that has been fitted out with operating theatres and recovery wards… staffed purely by volunteers from around the world (surgeons and nurses, cleaning staff and catering crew)… and it docks for a period of 12 months in some impoverished West African port and provides life-giving surgery to literally thousands of people…. Of course I wept but also inspired. And one of the young doctors in the movie attended the launch – Nerida, a bright-faced adventurer with a heart motivated by people in need – stirring stuff…. If you are in Australia, please watch SBS on the 10 December at 8.30pm.